Wiley College students will not return to campus for the fall semester this August due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Historically Black College and University’s President Herman Felton Jr. announced in a statement on Thursday.

Felton said Thursday instruction will be carried out virtually for the fall semester and the university will keep on only “essential” staff.

“We find ourselves in a continuum of unprecedented times,” Felton said in a statement on Thursday. “On this day, Texas has experienced its highest rate of infection (over 7,000) and is one of 32 states now putting the reopening efforts on pause. While we have yet to experience the ‘peak,’ it is imminent and according to the state’s epidemiologist, ‘we will likely rollout of the first wave in late august early September and right into the second wave and the flu season in the fall.’ Thus, I have decided, that our college will deliver instruction virtually and will maintain its ‘essential personnel posture’ through the 2020 fall semester.”

Felton was the first Marshall higher education learning institution this spring to announce it was sending students home from campus and delivering instruction virtually when news of the pandemic first broke.

“Based on our desire to protect the health and safety of our Wiley family from COVID-19, Wiley College’s administration began to meet in early March to discuss the novel virus and its potential impact on Wiley,” Felton said. “This decision comes after several months of monitoring, researching and planning for every possible on-campus scenario. Please know that during planning, our ultimate goal was to bring every student, faculty, and staff member back to our beloved campus. The science, data, projections, and counsel from state health officials simply does not lend itself to re-entry at this point.”

Wiley College’s fall semester will begin Aug. 3 and end on Nov. 20. All fall sports, homecoming and non-essential travel for faculty, students and staff is canceled.

The university’s new student orientation will be held online July 25-31 via Zoom conferencing, Felton said.

“As we continue to support our students’ educational goals, all campus resources will be available virtually to Wiley students to ensure academic productivity. Additionally, Wiley College has purchased laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots for each registered student who expressed a need,” he said. “The laptops are retrofitted to support online classes and ensure access to library resources, MS Office, and various educational needs.”

ETBU

East Texas Baptist University this week announced it will bring students and staff back on campus for the fall semester.

“Thankfully, East Texas Baptist University has not had any confirmed viral cases of COVID-19 among our on-campus employees, yet the university understands that may well happen,” ETBU President Blair Blackburn said. “ETBU is prepared to respond to such a scenario that enables our institution to continue operations in a safe and effective manner. It has been stressed for employees and students conduct daily personal health screenings of temperature and symptoms. The University will continue its aggressive process of health and safety protocols which include: monitored screening, advised testing, virus tracking, contact tracing, directed isolation/campus separation, and advised quarantine.”

Blackburn said fall enrollment at the university is up about 6 percent, up to about 1,515 students, from last year and graduate enrollment is up about 30 percent.

“With a cohesive collaboration, ETBU remains fluid and flexible, but well-prepared and well-equipped for the challenging opportunities in the days ahead,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said classrooms will maintain 50 percent capacity and rotate meeting days for students. On days that students are selected not to show up for in person instruction, the student will attend class virtually.

Tiger Camp for new students begins Aug. 13 and the first day of the fall semester is Aug. 17. The fall semester will end on Nov. 25.

TSTC Marshall

Texas State Technical College in Marshall did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for its plans for the upcoming fall semester.